- The Senate on Monday confirmed President Obama's nominee for surgeon general, internal medicine physician Dr. Vivek H. Murthy. The post has been empty for a year and a half as legislators wrangled over gun control issues, and specifically Murthy's position on the matter.
- Dr. Murthy, who teaches at both Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, is the co-founder a clinical trials company as well as an HIV education organization and Doctors for America (formerly known as Doctors for Obama).
- President Obama invoked the country's dire need for a surgeon general in light of the ongoing Ebola crisis in West Africa, which as of Monday has killed almost 7,000 people. "Vivek's confirmation makes us better positioned to save lives around the world and protect the American people here at home," the President said.
Some legislators worry that the Surgeon General's close ties to the current administration make him unsuitable for a job that many feel should be nonpartisan. The office of the surgeon general does not have any direct impact on the politically-charged issue of gun legislation; however, Dr. Murthy has supported a ban on selling certain kinds of firearms and ammunitions that falls on the left side of the aisle.
"Americans want the same thing from a surgeon general that they all want from their own doctors," said Senator John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican and a surgeon. "People want honest and straightforward advice about medical dangers like cancer, like heart attacks, like stroke. They don't want an inexperienced, unqualified political appointee."
Others believe that Dr. Murthy is within the rights of his new position to be taking a stance on a public health issue like gun control, especially in light of hospital violence like the incident in Philadelphia that led to the death of a case worker in July.
"The simple fact is gun violence impacts far too many people," Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said. "Pointing out these facts and asking whether there are strategies we could apply to bring that number down is exactly what a person tasked to keep Americans healthy ought to be doing."